Amex survey points to London, Santiago, customization

Highlights of “what’s trending” in 2015 according to American Express customer booking data and a travel agent survey reveal London and Santiago are the hot destination and 43% of customers spending more and 43% spending the same amount on travel with splurges on on-trip activities, hotel and airline upgrades.

The American Express Travel report also noted that when asked where they focus most of their time helping customers, 67% of travel agents indicated it is spent crafting customized itineraries.

Based on destinations booked with the greatest year-over-year growth, customers are turning to large cosmopolitan cities this year. Joining London and Santiago are favorites like New York, San Francisco, and also far-flung locales like Mumbai, for a growing interest in Bollywood, and Buenos Aires, a city that immerses travelers in both European and local culture.

The top 10 trending destinations for 2015 are:

  1. London
  2. Santiago
  3. Paris
  4. Mumbai
  5. Buenos Aires
  6. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
  7. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  8. Sydney
  9. New York City
  10. San Francisco

Separately, based on the survey findings, travel agents are also seeing an increase in demand for New Zealand, as well as Vietnam, Myanmar, Croatia, Iceland and Italy.

Memories reign over savings

When asked about what their customers’ attitude toward travel is, more than one-third of travel agents noted they are eager to take trips and spend on memorable experiences, while another third said customers want to take trips but focus on cost/savings. Fully, 21% said their customers are more adventurous and want to explore new destinations, and 7% said customers want to get away but will visit the same tried-and-true destinations.

Customization remains priority

When asked where they focus most of their time helping customers, 67% of travel agents indicated it is spent crafting customize itineraries. This includes typical arrangements such as selecting the best flight and hotel accommodations, using their local destination expertise for planning on-trip activities and scheduling free time for customers to simply relax or explore the destination on their own.

Travelers want their agents to help them book tours on their trips (57%), as well as make restaurant reservations (19%) and cultural activities/museums (16%). Travelers are also looking for personalized tours that offer a more intimate and hands-on experience, such as wine tours or local cooking classes.

Also, more consumers are planning to vacation with their family in 2015 compared to any other trip. About one-in-four (23%) agents say their customers plan to travel with their immediate family, while 19% see multi-generational family vacations on the rise.

The American Express Travel survey was completed online by 213 Amex Travel Counselors throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico between October 30 and November 28, 2014.